Re: Vetting family tree submissions to genealogy sites for data soundness #general

EdrieAnne Broughton

Using the big sites, I mean Ancestry primarily and FamilySearch, can be very helpful as long as the sites are used judiciously.  
When looking at trees, I only use them with skepticism.  I look at the number of sources that the maker used.  I completely discount data where the only sources are 'because I said so' and only a little more at what 'Granny said'.  I only completely trust primary sources that I've seen images of.  Those include birth records for birth dates and mothers names...a little less for fathers listed.  Death certificates for death information but less for birth information because that information is only as good as the knowledge of the informant.  You have to remember that 100 years ago children didn't have to fill out forms with parents' full names every year, from kindergarten to college and beyond.  I found that one of my husband's ancestors wrote a biography of his father in the 1840s.  The man didn't know his father's first name so he just used Sylvester.  The names of this writer's contemporaries were correct but the previous generation, he didn't have a clue.  Most people discounted the events described however I think the stories were correct.  I still have a few doubters but most of the family researchers I've convinced that the bio events are true.
When an Ancestry hint is wrong, I use their form for why I ignored their hint...remember, someone might just accept the hint assuming it's right.  And I give the reason for rejecting the hint.  Some, like SAR applications, I just reject on principle as those were rarely properly vetted.  I discount Pedigree files, Millenium Files and other trees just for the same reason.  I'm a Californian who has a wide tree that goes back to earliest Virginia and would be prohibitively expensive to research in all the places my ancestors lived.  I got into Jewish genealogy as a challenge.  I have a nephew by marriage who is too busy to do his own research.  He spends time in other parts of the world doing research far from comfy studies.  My biggest handicap is my rudimentary German and complete lack of Hebrew,Yiddish or even Russian.  My best asset is growing up age 8-16 in a Jewish neighborhood with many friends with parents and grandparents from Eastern Europe.  In our larger community were Armenians and Italians.
People who just accept a piece of new information without two documents supporting their hypothesis are foolish and I wish there was some way to trash their work...there isn't.  Just make sure your research is the best you can make it, and take your time, don't speed.
                        EdrieAnne Broughton  
                        Jewish Gen member for 20 years

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